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Health Insurance Depends On DNA Results

Armen Hareyan's picture

People are scared to pass DNA test and to find out they have genetically transmitted diseases in family, because it may cause discrimination from health insurance providers and employers, thus making health insurance even less affordable for a family and individual.

Health officials are very worried with this fact, because DNA test gives a clear picture of patient health and makes a lot of diseases preventable. Meanwhile, patients are afraid of DNA results being recorded in health history, because they may face health insurance and employment problems.

"It's pretty clear that the public is afraid of taking advantage of genetic testing," said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health. "If that continues, the future of medicine that we would all like to see happen stands the chance of being dead on arrival."

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A recent study by Georgetown University Health Policy Institute found that 7 out of 92 health insurer decisions are not fair to those with genetically transmitted diseases. They have either premium payments increased, or coverage completely cut based on DNA results.

However, health insurers and employers deny there are disparities. Their decisions do not depend on DNA information. Moreover, they don't request DNA information at all. They ensure that they strictly follow Americans with Disabilities Act, and it clearly protects employee and insurance receiver rights.

"It's an anecdotal fear," said Mohit M. Ghose from America's Health Insurance Plans. "Our industry is not interested in any way, shape or form in discriminating based on a genetic marker."

There is Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act that should prohibit health insurance providers and employers from collecting DNA information and allowing discrimination among those genetically inclined to any disease. However, this act still needs Senate approval to start protecting employee rights. Meanwhile, those hiding from DNA tests will suffer from more diseases.